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"Knock, Knock!!" "Who's there?" "Bang, Bang!"

Halloween and Guy Fawkes.....That time of year again!! The 2 scariest times of year for animals and many people. Hopefully this blog will help you with your dogs.

Halloween is coming, I used to dread it, but whats so nice up in Norfolk is the pumpkin outside. A pumpkin says “yep, please knock,” or “help yourselves.” This small act means that older, vulnerable people aren’t on edge, those with dogs aren’t bothered, and generally anyone who doesn’t want to participate doesn’t have to worry about being knocked for.

It never used to be a thing when I was younger, but I hope it has spread around the country as it’s a lovely way to enjoy the fun if you want to, and hopefully then let others enjoy it too from a distance.

But, what about the dogs?

Well, first, the costumes are likely to unnerve even the steadiest of dogs, the excitement of the children is likely to be a bit much too. Its best to avoid walking them at the typical ‘trick or treat’ times (often about 5pm for the younger ones, and about 7pm for the tweens) to prevent any worry on your part or your dogs.

It’s a night where the kids are excited and full of sugar, and generally an opportunity to be a bit silly. And, as always with excitement we don’t always think as we normally would. So, make it easier, let them have some fun, and just adjust your routine slightly for the night.

If you are welcoming those trick or treaters, PLEASE do not bring your dogs to the door. They may love people, but the door opening constantly, with people dressed up and very excited is a recipe for disaster.

I am so paranoid about dogs being near the front door, they aren't robots, and you just cannot predict 100% what could happen. Why take the risk?

For the evening, pop them in the front room with the door closed, and use fun but calm activities such as a kong, freework, scatter feeds and healthy chews to keep them occupied whilst you deal with the busy time. This will prevent accidental escapes, nips or worse and general issues surrounding the front door and frequent visitors.

If you aren’t keen on welcoming the treat seekers, that’s fine. Close the curtains so your dog isn’t getting overwhelmed by all the ghosts and ghouls passing, pop the TV on and keep access to the front door restricted so they don’t burn out from all the passers by.

Both groups may find the dogs need a quiet day the next day to recover from all the changes in the environment the night before. A calm game of scent in the garden or the house is a great way to help them settle.

And for those weirdo's who enjoy dressing up their dogs in ridiculous clothing.....make sure the dogs like it too! Its all a bit of fun, but many dogs really struggle with the excitement so please make sure its fun for everyone. Its not worth ruining your relationship with your dogs for a picture!

Remember, on your following walk, sweets and treats may get dropped so be extra vigiliant. Chocolate and Xylitol are toxic to dogs so please call your vet if they eat something just to check whether or not you should worry.

Here's some fun pics from my Barking Course Grads who kindly shared their pics for the blog. (Please note the images remain the property of the owners who kindly provided them for the purpose of this blog and are not meant for reproduction without their express permission!)

Advice on fireworks after pics!

Next up, is the one we all worry about. Fireworks. Now usually around now there are LOADS of posts on social media giving advise so I will try not to repeat what they all say.

Usually they are pretty accurate and give sound advice.

Here’s a few tips from my experience:

You’ve got a bit of time to desensitise them to the sounds, but really you need to work on this across the year to try to make a permanent change.

So, what do you do now?

Make a note of local PLANNED displays. This usually happens on the weekend AFTER GUY FAWKES, this year the 5th is a Sunday, so it may be Saturday or Sunday. Are any neighbours planning any garden displays? Ask them so you can plan.

Some of you are already getting the big bangs, and this makes us all jump, but the thing the dogs appear to struggle most with (me too to be fair) is those random almighty booms rather than the constant flow of pops.

  • I would suggest you start playing desensitisation sounds NOW at random times of day just to hopefully take some of the edge off.

  • Pop Alexa by the window or where the sound is gong to be most likely at its louded and play the tracks from there.

  • Spotify has a lot of different tracks, possibly amazon that you can use. I've popped some links at the bottom too.

  • BUT….don’t start loud, start so softly you can barely hear it, and gradually with no response turn the volume up in the next session.

  • YOU DO NOT WANT a reaction or acknowledgement of the sound. If they respond to it then its too loud! Turn it down again.

  • Gradually increase it so they get used to it.

BUT remember it’s the random sounds that make us all jump.

  • As the time gets closer and more and more fireworks go off… daylight too…..start changing your walking routine to avoid it.


  • Do ensure your microchip details are up to date, DOUBLE CHECK this on the register as some companies have had issues with their systems in recent months!

  • Check their chip is still working, your vet can do this at a check up, its useful to check its location in case the chip migrates away from the original spot too.

  • Go outside in the garden with them. Potentially on lead. Try to avoid going out during key times – especially if there are planned displays.

  • Do warn your neighbours or those with livestock if you are having fireworks -remember you can get silent ones these days! Its not just dogs that struggle remember.

  • Do close the curtains

  • Do leave the lights on

  • Do give them a bolt hole, or safe space where they can hide, and leave them too it if they choose to go there. They’ll come out when they are ready.

  • Do hold them or give them comfort if they ask for it or if they seek your attention.

  • Do give them a fleecy blanket to hide under if they like that.

  • Do speak to your vets if your dogs are likely to have a traumatic response to the noises, there is no shame in asking for something to support your dogs. Please remember you will most likely need an appointment for this due to a change in the rules by the regulating body, this is not a policy change within your vets - they have no choice!

TOP TIP – If you have been playing the firework tracks to them and they are comfortable with them, put them on throughout, then the big bangs won’t be as scary and abrupt as the tracks you are playing might mask them. (Doesn’t always work, but I’ve seen it make a big difference.)

Useful Links:

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